- General Motors is recalling 5.9 million of its SUVs and pickups from 2007–2014 model years over defective airbag inflators.
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) denied a GM petition to avoid the recall and gave GM 30 days to come up with a plan to notify owners and replace the inflators.
- GM had said that the recall isn’t necessary because the Takata-made airbag inflators in these vehicles aren’t subject to the same deterioration as they are in other vehicles involved in a massive worldwide recall.
General Motors is recalling 5.9 million vehicles over defective Takata-built airbag inflators after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) denied GM’s petition to avoid the recall. The vehicles include SUVs and pickups with model years between 2007 and 2014, including the the Cadillac Escalade; Chevrolet 1500, 2500, and 3500; Chevy Suburban and Tahoe; GMC Sierra 1500, 2500, and 3500; and the GMC Yukon and Yukon XL.
“NHTSA concluded that the GM inflators in question are at risk of the same type of explosion after long-term exposure to high heat and humidity as other recalled Takata inflators,” the regulatory agency said in a statement to C/D. “Such explosions have caused injuries and deaths.”
GM contested this decision, saying that it doesn’t believe that the airbags in these vehicles with Takata inflators were subject to the same deterioration as those in the other vehicles that have been recalled. “Based on data generated through independent scientific evaluation conducted over several years, we disagree with NHTSA’s position,” GM said in a statement. “However, we will abide by NHTSA’s decision and begin taking the necessary steps.”
NHTSA’s decision document said that GM claimed that the specific inflators which went into these now-recalled vehicles had a lower risk of rupture as a result of unique design differences. The automaker also claimed that the actual environment in these vehicles, which share a platform internally referred to as GMT900, “better protects the front-passenger inflator from the extreme temperature cycling that can cause inflator rupture.”
In its securities filings, according to Reuters, GM said that it would cost $1.2 billion to address this recall if it did come to fruition. The Takata recall, by far the largest the auto industry has ever seen, affects 19 different manufacturers and includes roughly 63 million airbags in the U.S. and tens of millions of vehicles.
These Takata airbags have an ammonium-nitrate-based propellant that can deteriorate when exposed to high temperatures or moisture, or simply due to aging. Once they deteriorate, if deployed, they can send metal fragments into the cabin of a vehicle. There have been 18 deaths as a result of these airbags, although none in a GM-made vehicle.
NHTSA gave GM 30 days to provide the agency with a plan on how the automaker will notify owners and fix this recall. Owners of vehicles that may be affected should check the NHTSA recalls website for more information in the coming months.
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